By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar
Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I will talk to my daughter about dating or when I’ll even allow her to date. She’s only 7, but believe it or not, my husband and I have talked briefly about it. And I’m not sure we’ve come to any kind of agreement.
The concept comes up in little spurts like at ‘Justin Beiber’ themed birthday parties where all her six-and seven-year-old friends talk about marrying ‘the beibs’ or how Cinderella found her prince.
What scares me, besides the fact that girls are exposed to so much more than I was growing up through online media etc., (great, now I sound like my mom), is that as a South Asian woman raised by somewhat strict South Asian parents, I was never allowed to ‘date’.
I had no friends that were boys as far as I remember. I had a very strict dad who happily sent me to an all girls’ school in hopes I’d receive a great education with little distraction. Which I did to some degree. But I rebelled at the age of 16 and started seeing a boy behind my parents’ back. Lucky for me, it never resulted in any trouble and it ended very quickly because I realized it was just a crush. I hope to God my daughter never feels the urge to do that and I think if I shelter her the way I was, it will only work against me.
So if you’ve never really had the conversation with your own mom or father or about ‘dating’ how can we as mothers have that conversation with kids with any kind of perspective or experience? There may be some of you with teenagers thinking about how to broach the subject, especially around the ‘first date’. Some of you may be wondering what teenagers are thinking when it comes that first date whether for Valentine’s Day or prom night.
I think it’s important to first know what teens are asking and then be prepared with some informed answers. BeingGirl.com is a wonderful website where teen girls can anonymously ask those burning questions on their minds and get accurate information and answers. It’s also a great place for moms like us to visit to help better understand the questions our daughters may WANT to ask us but are hesitant.
DID YOU KNOW?
Here are a few top questions beinggirl.com states their community has been asked most often:
1) How do I know if I’m ready to date?
2) What does being attracted to someone really mean?
3) What should I expect from a first date?
4) Why are some girls boy crazy?
5) If I like a guy who doesn’t do as well in school as I do, shouldn’t I hide my brains and talent, just a little?
Have you ever wondered how you’d answer these questions? As South Asian women, many of us may never have had that conversation with our own parents. There’s still a certain expectation from even our elders that we shouldn’t ‘allow’ our kids to ‘date’ or spend time with the opposite sex until they’re much older. I think the most important thing we can do is open the door to conversation, allow them to know they can talk to us freely so that they can make healthy decisions when it comes time for a relationship or new emotions in general.
Some of the other important things to maybe consider when having the conversation are:
1) Share your values or opinions on the subject and why you have the view you do.
2) Don’t pass judgment, hear your teen out.
3) Ask your teen about what matters to him/her about the role you play
4) Lastly, view your teen’s questions as learning opportunities not points of conflict
For moms, successfully navigating these conversations is not just an important task for us, but also for our kids. Personally I hope I don’t have to talk to my daughter about dating until she’s in her 20s (when I technically started dating) but I doubt I can put it off that long! Looking to resources that cater to teens might be the perfect place to start. And for a helpful resource made just for parents, you can check out pgeveryday.ca/always-changing, which has more great tips on opening a healthy dialogue with your daughter.
How have you broached this subject with your daughter?
This post was sponsored by P&G Everyday, Always and Tampax.
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